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Drax signs up for MOL’s hard sail solution

British power firm Drax Group has come out in support of Mitsui OSK Lines’ (MOL) hard sail development. Drax is partnering with MOL Drybulk to ship wood pellets to Japanese biomass energy clients on a set of new ships which will feature MOL’s Wind Challenger hard sail. A first ship with the wind technology is expected to be in the water by 2025 with more to follow, likely featuring alternative fuels too.

The initiative is part of Drax’s plans to reduce its supply chain emissions and become carbon negative by 2030 using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner commented: “This partnership to advance this crucial new technology will support Drax’s commitment to reduce its own supply chain emissions and could also deliver far-reaching benefits across a number of different sectors that rely on ships to carry goods to customers around the world.”

Plans to develop the Wind Challenger hard sail started in 2009 as an industry-academia joint research project led by the University of Tokyo. MOL took charge of the plan in 2018 and has been working on the technology since. The first Wind Challenger is scheduled to be released in the second half of this year. The system converts wind energy to propulsive force with a telescopic hard sail.

The agreement with MOL Drybulk follows Drax’s previous work with the Smart Green Shipping Alliance to look at the potential of fitting sail technology on ships transporting biomass from the US to the UK.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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